Royal Navy's first woman warship commander Sarah West takes up her post

Lt Cdr Sarah West Sarah West has become the first female commander of a major Royal Navy warship

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The first female commander of a major Royal Navy warship has taken up her post in Scotland.

Sarah West, 40, from Middlesex, has joined Type 23 frigate HMS Portland in Rosyth, Fife.

Cdr West, who grew up in Lincolnshire and entered the Royal Navy in 1995, has previously commanded four minesweepers.

The warship is undergoing a refit and, on completion, it will undergo trials before returning to its base in Devonport.

It will then be prepared for its next operational tasking.

Cdr West said: "Taking command of HMS Portland is definitely the highlight of my 16 years in the Royal Navy so far.

"It is a challenge that I am fully trained for and ready to undertake.

"I am very proud to be taking command of a Type 23 frigate, which is an extremely flexible warship, and I'm looking forward to taking HMS Portland on operations with a professional and focused team."

Key appointments

In another milestone for the Royal Navy, Cdr Sue Moore, 43, recently became the first woman to command a squadron of minor war vessels, the First Patrol Boat Squadron (1PBS), based in Portsmouth.

Cdr Moore, from Bath, and Cdr West have a combined 36 years of experience in the Royal Navy.

Their achievements include deployments ranging from the Gulf to the Balkans to counter-narcotics patrols in the Caribbean.

The pair have been described as being part of a "cohort of talented female officers" who joined the Royal Navy to serve at sea and are now undertaking or approaching key appointments in their naval careers.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that since women went to sea with the Navy in 1990, they have achieved success in many fields and have become pilots, observers and mine clearance divers.

Last December, it was announced that women will join their male counterparts in submarines from 2013.

Cdr Moore was one of the first two female officers to command a Royal Navy warship, HMS Dasher, in 1998.

She has 14 P2000 Archer Class training vessels under her command, two of which will be part of the honour guard during the forthcoming Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

In addition to Cdr West commanding HMS Portland, the MoD said it expects three minor war vessels will be commanded by women by the end of this year.

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